Italian Folk/Power Metallers Elvenking first burst onto the power metal scene in 1997 (recording their excellent debut, Heathenreel in 2001, Wyrd in 2004, and The Winter Wake in 2006) and amassed an underground following in the European metal scene, it wasn’t until 2007’s critically acclaimed The Scythe that the metal world at large stood up and took notice. The band subsequently released several albums (Two Tragedy Poets…And A Caravan Of Weird Figures, Red Silent Tides, and Era) to a very mixed response from their fanbase.
With their last album, The Pagan Manifesto, Elvenking created a masterpiece. The album was produced as well as mixed and mastered by the amazing Simone Mularoni (DGM). Everything about The Pagan Manifesto was brilliant and Elvenking was at the top of the Folk/Power Metal landscape in terms of quality. The question after that was, could they top it? After multiple spins of their latest effort, Secrets of The Magick Grimoire, the answer may not be a definitive yes, but it is absolutely on par with The Pagan Manifesto. Once again, Elvenking combine elements of traditional folk music, pagan themes, modern metal, as well as power metal to create a sound filled with enchanting dark melodies, hook-laden verses, and anthemic catchy choruses.
This time around, guitarist Aydan and vocalist Damna handle the production duties and Mularoni returns for the mixing and mastering. Elvenking enlist a few special guests for harsh vocal appearances on Secrets of The Magick Grimoire, including Nekrokraft and Witchery vocalist Angus Norder on four of the songs including A Grain of Truth, where Norder and Damna’s vocals blend together perfectly finding a perfect balance between aggression and melody. There is also an uncredited female vocal, which adds another layer to the song; the main vocal melody is reminiscent of Edge of Thorns from Savatage. The legendary Snowy Shaw (King Diamond, Memento Mori, Dream Evil) provides guest vocals on At The Court of The Wild Hunt, adding his unique creepy and dark style to a fast paced power metal anthem.
The album kicks off with the symphonic bombast of Invoking The Woodland Spirit, a melodic power metal feast for the aural senses. Damna’s vocals go from a haunting croaking whisper to powerful, melodic, soaring, and majestic. Draugen’s Maelstrom is a melodic power metal anthem filled with melody and peppered with harsh vocals that adds the perfect amount of brutality. The Horned Ghost and the Sorcerer is a kickass folk metal song with some impressive violin work from Lethien. 3 Ways To Magick is the perfect mix between folk and melodic power metal.
The album closer, A Cloak of Dusk, is a serene acoustic guitar and violin infused folk metal ballad with an emotional vocal performance between Damna and an uncredited female vocalist. There are two bonus tracks on the import edition as well so I would highly recommend picking up the import for those extras.
In the final analysis, The Pagan Manifesto is an incredibly high benchmark release in the career of Elevenking, but with Secrets Of The Magick Grimoire, the band has come extremely close to matching their best work yet. If you are not familiar with Elevenking but you are a fan of melodic folk/power metal, you will thoroughly enjoy Secrets Of The Magick Grimoire.